In two cup games in the space of four days, Manchester City have routed two Football League sides. First Rotherham came to the Etihad on Sunday in the FA Cup and then Burton Albion made a visit on Wednesday in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final. Both went home thoroughly exhausted and beaten at the hands of the City juggernaut. It can be hard to find takeaways from two games that City won a combined 16-0 but there are a couple here that grabbed attention.
Manchester City Complete Two Routs Against Lower League Sides
The Young Players
Phil Foden and Eric Garcia are two of Manchester City’s brightest young prospects. Both got to display their talent in these games against lower league opposition. Let’s start with Foden. The young English midfielder started the FA Cup game against Rotherham. He then got most of the second half in the League Cup against Burton.
They got plenty out of him in these games as he scored against Rotherham and came off the bench to score against Burton. Against the Millers, he was sparkling from the start, scoring the key second goal that started the rout and earning rave reviews for his performance. Also, despite coming on after the blowout had started against Burton, he managed to look very positive in his position, both winning the ball back and providing for others.
The most impressive performance, though, was Garcia’s against the Brewers. The young Spaniard was incredibly calm and collected in possession, much like his last start for City. He was also tough and strong in defence, which is crucial against lower league opposition. They are always going to come with fight and determination and Garcia handled that well before he and City squad beat the fight out of Burton.
Another huge takeaway from these games was the outstanding play of Ilkay Gundogan, filling in for Fernandinho. Manchester City have really struggled when their talismanic Brazilian has missed games and they’ve need better shifts from the players who have filled into his place. That starts with someone like Gundogan, who after a shaky start to the season is starting to play really well.
On Sunday against Rotherham and again on Tuesday against Burton, he was everywhere. He played some outstanding passes into space in both games but that was not his most impressive attribute in those games. He, finally, correctly filled the space when the players behind him got dragged around.
So when a run took Eric Garcia or Nicolas Otamendi out of position, Gundogan filled into their spot. When Kyle Walker or Oleksandr Zinchenko got caught too far upfield, Ilkay Gundogan was there when the ball was lost. It’s an art that can take a long time for some players to master and there is evidence from these games the Gundogan is mastering that art.
Great Gabriel Jesus!
It was great to see Gabriel Jesus playing such an integral part of these routs. The Brazilian has struggled this season, trying everything to break out of a slump. Even his family moved back from Brazil recently to try and help him find his form, and it may be working. Jesus has scored five goals in these two games, including four on Wednesday against Burton.
It hasn’t just been against these poor teams where he has improved, though. He played well in the Premier League before this against Watford and Everton in the league, scoring two goals and grabbing an assist. Manchester City needs strong performances from him going forward in order to compete across four fronts.
All in all, there isn’t much to take away from a 16-0 aggregate scoreline against lower league opposition. The win against Rotherham ensured Manchester City progressed in the FA Cup and the win against Burton gives them a nine-goal lead going into the second leg. There may be many changes in that second leg, though Pep tends to respect the fans of these lower league sides more than most.